“The weather outside is frightful, and my kitchen is so delightful, and since I’ve no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.” Well. it’s not actually snowing YET, but the weather forecast is for a winter mixture of sleet, rain and some snow. A really good day to stay inside where it’s warm and do some baking, and I am also making a good old fashioned beef stew. I just love beef stew.
Preparing beef stew takes a few minutes to prep the meat and vegetables, brown the meat and get it all simmering, but once that’s done you can pretty much forget about it for 2-3 hours while you do other things. It’s probably a good idea to give it a stir now and then to make sure it’s not sticking on the bottom, but that’s about it until dinner time when you sit down to a hot bowl of brown beefy deliciousness. So good on a cold winter’s day!
OLD TIME BEEF STEW
SERVINGS: 6 – 8
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 Tablespoons fat ( I like to use half butter and half olive oil )
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 large rib or 2 medium ribs celery, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 cups liquid (this may be water, beef broth, bouillon, or part red wine)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon salt, or to taste. You may need less if there is salt in the liquid you use.
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika,
- 1 – 2 bay leaves
- dash allspice or cloves
- 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 3 medium – large all purpose potatoes (not baking potatoes)
- optional: 1 cup cut green beans, 1 cup small white onions
1. Thoroughly brown meat on all sides in hot fat. Much of the deep beefy flavor you want in stew comes from properly browning the meat, right at the beginning. I always dredge my meat in flour to which I have added a little salt and pepper and some paprika. Then in a large deep pot, melt some butter with some olive oil, and begin to brown the meat in small batches so the pan is not crowded. Putting in too many pieces of meat causes it to steam and not get nice and brown.
Once all the meat has been browned, set it aside on a platter or bowl, and add the sliced onions to any drippings left in the pan. If need be, add a little more butter and oil, as the onions become fragrant add in the sliced celery, and when both the onions and celery begin to soften add the garlic and sauté just until it gives off its fragrance.
2. Return the beef to the pot, and add the 4 cups of liquid, and all the rest of the seasonings (through allspice or cloves). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook slowly for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
3. Add cut up carrots and potatoes and continue cooking for another 20 – 30 minutes until tender. Add optional vegetables at this time and cook another 10 – 15 minutes to thoroughly warm them.
4. Thicken stew with the following: 1/4 cup water mixed with 1/2 cup flour, or 1/4 cup cornstarch. Add in small amounts stirring all the while until stew reaches desired level of thickness.
5. Bring to the table and serve family-style with a good crusty bread or rolls for soaking up all the gravy.
Note: I have tried cooking this recipe in a crock-pot, but was not satisfied with the end result. I thought the flavors became too dilute, and the meat was stringy, rather than tender.
SOURCE: Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook